ASIA MARKETS: Australian Stocks Dive As Asia-Pacific Markets Mixed

By Kenan MachadoFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Nikkei rises as yen weakens; Hang Seng extends Monday's gains

A pullback in commodity shares dragged Australia's key stock index lower on Tuesday, while other regional markets looked for direction in early trade.

Continue Reading Below

Commodity stocks have been key to the recent rebound for Australia's underperforming equities market, helping the S&P/ASX 200 hit 10-year highs earlier this month, but profit-taking pressure has been building.

The stock index was last down 1.1%, with the energy sector retreating around 2.5%, even though oil prices barely budged overnight and in early Asian trade. The sector had jumped nearly 15% in barely a month.

Utilities stocks were also weaker, down 1.6% after recently hitting their best levels since midyear, while heavyweight miners BHP Billiton (BHP.AU) and Rio Tinto (RIO) were also lower after recently hitting multiyear highs.

"The Australian market has had an uncommon run now. In these circumstances it is reasonable to expect some profit-taking," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Tuesday's pullback also came amid ongoing political uncertainty in Australia, as more members of parliament have resigned over their dual citizenship status. The ASX 200 hasn't suffered more than a 1% daily loss since August.

Australia's highest court recently ruled that lawmakers holding dual citizenship were disqualified to hold parliamentary seats as they had violated a 116-year-old rule that states lawmakers must not owe allegiance to a foreign power. The crisis tipped the conservative government into the minority in the lower house of parliament last week, after two lawmakers were disqualified and forced to re-contest seats in special elections next month.

In Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.5% lifted by gains in the U.S. dollar against the yen, which supported export-related stocks.

The dollar was last at Yen113.70, up from Yen113.47 before the local stock market closed Monday.

Hong Kong's stocks were up 0.1%, extending their gains after closing at a fresh 10-year high on Monday, with Chinese technology heavyweight Tencent (0700.HK) adding another 1.2% ahead of its third-quarter results announcement due Wednesday.

In Korea, the Kospi was down 0.2%, led by declines in tourism-related shares, with Korean Air Lines (003490.SE) and Asiana Airlines (020560.SE) down by more than 1.5% each.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 13, 2017 22:55 ET (03:55 GMT)